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Old 13.01.2020, 05:11
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Where to move for 30 year old American couple

Hi all!

Brand new member here. Very excited for life in this beautiful country! My company is relocating me and my wife to Basel for work later this year. A little about us: no kids, young (30), currently live in San Francisco and love city life, traveling, good food, good drinks, socializing, etc. We know from other colleagues that have moved to Switzerland that American cities are not Swiss cities, and we totally get that - we want to fully immerse ourselves in Swiss life and appreciate and love wherever we live for its beauty and character...and not try to recreate American life in our new home.

That said, we're debating Basel and Zurich. As mentioned, I have a job but my wife will have to find work - she's got a solid job but doesn't work in the pharma industry. Wondering how folks on this forum would breakdown Zurich vs Basel (or other places?). Will have corporate housing in Basel for some time and wouldn't mind traveling around to experience other areas. Welcome any and all thoughts and many thanks in advance for chiming in!
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Old 13.01.2020, 05:58
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

Hi and welcome!

Don't live in Zürich. You will rapidly come to hate the commute. Driving would be disastrous (can be over two hours each way at peak periods), and assuming you'll be at one of Novartis, Roche or Actelion, your workplace won't be conveniently accessible from the Autobahn. Same problem with taking the train; although there are fast services that take only 53 minutes from Zürich to Basel, you have to get to and from the main stations too... also, your commute within Basel, if you live there, is likely to be much quicker than an intra-Zürich commute anyway.

In any case, Basel has a superb old city with buildings over 600 years old (one of the best in Switzerland), a very cosmopolitan atmosphere due to all the foreigners living there, and France and Germany literally 10 minutes from most given points in the city. It's also a hub for easyJet, one of the largest low-cost airlines in Europe. And the zoo in Basel is way better than Zürich's.

Furthermore, rentals and general cost of living are cheaper than Zürich. Your wife is likely to have as many decent job opportunities in Basel as in Zürich, depending on her field of work, of course.

On the downside, income tax is higher in Basel (although that can be mitigated to some extent by living just outside the canton of Basel-Stadt, in Basel-Land) than in Zürich and surrounds, but cheaper accommodation and other benefits should help you get over that.

Basel. Done.
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Old 13.01.2020, 07:12
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

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Hi all!

Brand new member here. Very excited for life in this beautiful country! My company is relocating me and my wife to Basel for work later this year. A little about us: no kids, young (30), currently live in San Francisco and love city life, traveling, good food, good drinks, socializing, etc. We know from other colleagues that have moved to Switzerland that American cities are not Swiss cities, and we totally get that - we want to fully immerse ourselves in Swiss life and appreciate and love wherever we live for its beauty and character...and not try to recreate American life in our new home.

That said, we're debating Basel and Zurich. As mentioned, I have a job but my wife will have to find work - she's got a solid job but doesn't work in the pharma industry. Wondering how folks on this forum would breakdown Zurich vs Basel (or other places?). Will have corporate housing in Basel for some time and wouldn't mind traveling around to experience other areas. Welcome any and all thoughts and many thanks in advance for chiming in!
Welcome to the forum.

The answer is you don't have a choice. You have to live in the canton that your work place is situated in. You can ask another canton for permission to live there, but they have to agree to a new permit for you as does the other canton since they granted you the permit in the first place.
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Old 13.01.2020, 08:39
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

Former resident of the Bay Area myself, bienvenue en Suisse!
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Old 13.01.2020, 08:52
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

i'm assuming you're working in basel.

it's a tough one. basel is smaller quieter and more boring. for a couple with no kids, zurich offers more, but the commute is too much - i know. i did it for 3 years and had to move.

if you have kids or plan to have kids soon, then i'd just stay in/near basel.
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Old 13.01.2020, 09:27
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

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Hi all!

Brand new member here. Very excited for life in this beautiful country! My company is relocating me and my wife to Basel for work later this year. A little about us: no kids, young (30), currently live in San Francisco and love city life, traveling, good food, good drinks, socializing, etc. We know from other colleagues that have moved to Switzerland that American cities are not Swiss cities, and we totally get that - we want to fully immerse ourselves in Swiss life and appreciate and love wherever we live for its beauty and character...and not try to recreate American life in our new home.

That said, we're debating Basel and Zurich. As mentioned, I have a job but my wife will have to find work - she's got a solid job but doesn't work in the pharma industry. Wondering how folks on this forum would breakdown Zurich vs Basel (or other places?). Will have corporate housing in Basel for some time and wouldn't mind traveling around to experience other areas. Welcome any and all thoughts and many thanks in advance for chiming in!
My first thought was "stay put". That sounds a bit harsh but have you both been to Switzerland, specifically Basel, for a "look see"? I would do this before making a decision. A good career move for one spouse doesn't necessarily mean it works for both spouses. Your wife may struggle to find work.

Yes, Switzerland is a beautiful country and from here one can travel within Europe and other destinations. However, it can be a lonely place for a spouse who is now at home after leaving a career behind, whether you are living in the middle of city of Basel or in a village.

So please do consider this move very carefully with eyes wide open.
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Old 13.01.2020, 09:38
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

I agree that Basel is boring compared to Zürich (and both are boring compared to SF), but I think if you look for the positive in everything and appreciate what you have, then you can get by pretty well in Basel too. Rest assured that there are far duller places.

I don't think your wife will have big problems finding a job in Basel. There are plenty of big corporations where English is a big plus, but I would still work on the German as soon and as hard as possible as that opens many new possibilities, both at work and in terms of socialization.

And another tip, try to make friends among the locals and get out of the expat bubble as soon as possible. The exapt grapevine is very efficient at peddling half truths and making many aspects of Switzerland sound far more gruesome than in reality they are. Don't let them discourage you.
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Old 13.01.2020, 09:39
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

Hello!

Welcome to Switzerland.

My husband and I moved to Basel from a big US city when we were both 30 years old, it has been 9 years and we are still very happy in this beautiful country.

I was a trailing spouse who began a new career in pharma because I could not find work in my profession here. If your wife is flexible/open minded, she will still face challenges, but will eventually find her way. It takes time and patience as a trailing spouse...

On Basel vs Zurich, I totally recommend Basel. I think you will feel more settled if you live and work in the same city. It will be easier for you to acclimate and meet friends that way. Basel is a very cool city filled with nice restaurants, museums and bars and is fabulous along the Rhine in the Summer. It is of course not comparable to SF, but I think you must already know that. The Basel/Mulhouse airport also offers cheap excursions through Easyjet if you feel like getting away for the weekend.

Zurich is a beautiful and dynamic city and is only 53 minutes away, you can get away easily for the night...my husband and I regularly do. (Restaurant/bar scene rocks.) I personally would rather live in a smaller city like Bern or Basel because I feel less anonymous there...it is easy to feel lost at times in a foreign country, so having local contacts is very beneficial.

I wish you all the best and happy to give pointers/tips anytime!
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Old 13.01.2020, 09:40
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

Ask your company to find you a flat near the centre of Basel, even if it's only temporary. Get to know the place and at weekends take the train to Zürich to see if you like it and can cope with the commute. I used to commute over 3 hours a day in London, it's now 15 or 20 minutes (both ways) and it feels so liberatiing. Also, living in the city you soon realise that you don't need a car.

After 6 months or so you'll know if you like Basel or if you'd prefer to live in the suburbs or even in Zürich ( or halfway, but that's a lot more boondocks!).

Also, you say you like traveling, from Basel you can get trains into France and Germany easily, Paris is 3 hours away. Basel airport is good for cheap flights all over Europe, for further afield you usually need to catch a flight from Zürich, but it's only an hour or so by train.

And welcome to the forum!
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Old 13.01.2020, 10:17
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

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My first thought was "stay put". That sounds a bit harsh but have you both been to Switzerland, specifically Basel, for a "look see"? I would do this before making a decision. A good career move for one spouse doesn't necessarily mean it works for both spouses. Your wife may struggle to find work.

Yes, Switzerland is a beautiful country and from here one can travel within Europe and other destinations. However, it can be a lonely place for a spouse who is now at home after leaving a career behind, whether you are living in the middle of city of Basel or in a village.

So please do consider this move very carefully with eyes wide open.
Agree with this message fully. I saw this for a couple of folks and usually the trailing spouse/partner took time to find a good job. The market can be quite challenging with language preferences. It does take time to find a role. My partner (who had a great profile) took almost 09 months to find a good role. So bear that in mind. In terms of the Quality of Life, very few places compare. I love being here.
In terms of Basel/Zurich, the points on commute are very valid. It can be quite painful. Zurich is much more cosmopolitan, International and prettier than Basel (in my opinion). But it is much bigger, busier and noisier. That is why I always stayed put in Small Basel compared to Zurich. The taxes are cheaper in Zurich but rentals are higher. So costs kinda even out.
All the best with the move.
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Old 28.01.2020, 14:23
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

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My first thought was "stay put". That sounds a bit harsh but have you both been to Switzerland, specifically Basel, for a "look see"? I would do this before making a decision. A good career move for one spouse doesn't necessarily mean it works for both spouses. Your wife may struggle to find work.

Yes, Switzerland is a beautiful country and from here one can travel within Europe and other destinations. However, it can be a lonely place for a spouse who is now at home after leaving a career behind, whether you are living in the middle of city of Basel or in a village.

So please do consider this move very carefully with eyes wide open.
Hello @MichaelPrimak! My name is Farah and I am a 32 y/o Seattle native I just relocated to Basel November 2019 to join my husband here (he works for the hospital). I am also in the Science field so I think I can offer my very humble and new-resident 2-cents:

Pros of living in Basel if you're a US Expat:
TRAM is clean, takes you EVERYWHERE
Walking city
Cheaper grocery and overall shopping in Germany, which is a few minutes away and can also be accessed via TRAM.
Cleaner streets
Neighborly folks
Culture is nice here
For people that come from SF + Seattle, they're very environmentally conscious here, which is def a plus
Lots of new family and younger couples that live here
Almost everyone speaks English
Very close to airport
Many other Expats here
ITS SO CHEAP TO TRAVEL ANYWHERE (ok, this isn't Basel-specific, but its fun to be able to do quick getaways on weekends for little $)

Cons (subjective):
Expensive as hell
EVERYTHING IS CLOSED on Sundays
Lots of places close early on other days
Difficulty in finding a job if your work in the US did not relocate you. I'm currently looking for a clinical role at the big Pharmas here. I began looking about a month ago, but it has been difficult essentially starting from scratch-- esp. if you had a great career in the states.
People are friendly, but not west coast friendly
Terrible maternity leave laws if you're planning on having kiddos. But coming from the states, we're not ones to speak- haha!
It can get lonely if your wife is at home alone as she's getting settled. Its been difficult but if you're also working in Basel, its so easy to link up during the day for lunches. Everything is so close here (I guess this is a pro too!)
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Old 13.01.2020, 10:20
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

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That said, we're debating Basel and Zurich. As mentioned, I have a job but my wife will have to find work - she's got a solid job but doesn't work in the pharma industry. Wondering how folks on this forum would breakdown Zurich vs Basel (or other places?). Will have corporate housing in Basel for some time and wouldn't mind traveling around to experience other areas. Welcome any and all thoughts and many thanks in advance for chiming in!

https://www.englishforum.ch/3134956-post3.html


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Old 13.01.2020, 12:12
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

This is so true.
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Old 13.01.2020, 15:10
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

So live in BL. In the lowest-taxed Gemeinde of Beiderbasel, you're 7 minutes by bike from the centre of the city.

OP:

BL is the canton of Basel-Land;
BS is the canton of Basel-Stadt;
Beiderbasel is the two cantons above, put together;
ZH is the canton of Zürich;
Gemeinde is German for municipality;
and in case you were wondering, don't even think about UR. Or GL (sorry, DB )
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Old 13.01.2020, 17:09
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

Op: you've had a lot of variety in the replies, but it really is up to your mindset as to what you should do - and if it works out.

My husband and I moved here from the US 7 years ago (from the Bay Area, via NJ). We are very happy here, although I will say that I am happier than he is. He is the one with The Job, but he resents the language barrier and not being able to talk freely with just anyone he meets. I call him out on this though, as the majority of people DO speak English, and he is somewhat introverted, so its not like he would be talking to strangers much anyway

If the job is in Basel, I suggest moving to Basel (Baselland, if you prefer). The job should give you about 3 months of temp housing, during which time you can explore the area and make a more informed decision on what you want.

For me, I am thrilled to be here, even as the "trailing spouse". It took some time and effort, but I have been able to get contract jobs with the various pharma companies here and feel quite comfortable in my new home.

If you have specific questions, or just want to say hi, feel free to send me a PM.
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Old 13.01.2020, 19:31
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

Quote:
So live in BL. In the lowest-taxed Gemeinde of Beiderbasel, you're 7 minutes by bike from the centre of the city.

OP:

BL is the canton of Basel-Land;
BS is the canton of Basel-Stadt;
Beiderbasel is the two cantons above, put together;
ZH is the canton of Zürich;
Gemeinde is German for municipality;
and in case you were wondering, don't even think about UR. Or GL (sorry, DB )
Only if they are allowed to change cantons.

Tom
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Old 13.01.2020, 20:03
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

Absolutely go for it! The advice about living in Basel is solid given your husband's employment situation. Zurich is not far by train, and Easyjet is right there, the gateway to all of Europe! France and Germany are literally just a few minutes away.



Your husband can always change jobs and Kantons later if you want! You will also land a job after a year of learning German. Explore Switzerland and Europe with the generous vacation time. Just absorb the atmosphere, go to meetups if you must, hike, bike, ski.. just have a blast. You can always get on the plane back to California at any time. You will not regret it later, not for one microsecond!


Warning, after a few years, you may never leave.



From an ex-Californian who moved here from the Bay Area 33 years ago.
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Old 14.01.2020, 20:03
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Re: Where to move for 30 year old American couple

All - thank you SO much for your thoughtful (and prompt) responses! This is incredibly helpful. Actually really neat to hear all the support for Basel living - from visiting for work a number of times, it looks like a beautiful place and a great quality of life.

Only concerns are: is it "too" quiet/laid back, and would it be very difficult for my wife to find work vs the opportunities in Zurich? May be best as suggested to go, live in corporate housing for a few months, and then explore and evaluate opportunities.

Again can't thank this community enough...so helpful and truly appreciated!
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